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The breakdown of the Dolphins coaching seach

The Dolphins are quietly conducting a coaching search.

The club has made no public move to cement the future of their football operations but that does not mean things are stagnant behind the scenes, as ownership has already contacted two potential coaching candidates, according to multiple NFL sources.

The Dolphins in recent days reached out to former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher to gauge his interest in becoming the coach, according to a source close to Cowher. But the team's conversations with Cowher included a scenario in which he would have final say over the organization but also retain general manager Jeff Ireland and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Cowher, apparently not comfortable with that setup because he wants autonomy over assistants, personnel and the hiring of a GM, has backed away from the Miami job at this time as a result. He is out of the Miami picture at this moment but that remains a fluid situation.

Another source indicated this morning that the Dolphins have made initial and preliminary contact with Jim Harbaugh's camp and that more conversations are expected in the coming hours and possibly days with the Stanford coach. Harbaugh, who authored Stanford's 12-1 season and their 40-12 defeat of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, has been in South Florida for over a week.

The Dolphins have had no official meetings or talks with Harbaugh per se. But having such discussions is apparently the plan, a source said. The story was first reported by NFL.com.

There is no certainty that Harbaugh will be hired by Miami, however.

He is perhaps the hottest college coach in the nation now and his pro-style offense is appealing to any NFL team looking to upgrade on offense -- a description the Dolphins fit. But that makes Harbaugh a candidate for jobs in San Francisco and Denver and at his alma mater, Michigan.

The 49ers are an apparent quality of life fit because they are 21 miles from Harbaugh's current address. But the 49ers seem intent on completing the hiring of a general manager first so that may hinder their attempt to land Harbaugh.

The Broncos are now guided, in part, by former quaterback John Elway, a Stanford graduate. Like a contingent of Dolphins employees, Elway was also on hand Monday night as Harbaugh's team did its work against Virginia Tech.

Michigan is a fit because Harbaugh played there and was a candidate for the job in 2002. But Harbaugh didn't land the Michigan job that year so his allegiance to the Wolverines may not be as solid as it once was. Ironically, Ross is a Michigan alumnus and major contributor but could be the reason Michigan doesn't land its prized candidate.

Harbaugh seems to fit what Ross apparently is searching for -- a name-coach that promises offensive fireworks that excites fans. But chasing Harbaugh is not without difficulty in that he would also have to agree to work with Ireland and keep Nolan, whom Ross seems intent on keeping at this point.

Two other possibilities are Jeff Fisher and Jon Gruden.

The Tennessee head coach has not been told by owner Bud Adams if he will be retained or fired. If he is fired, Fisher is a respected name that could attract Ross. The situation in Tennessee has no timetable for finding resolution.

Gruden, working for ESPN on their Monday Night Football broadcasts, is perhaps the most expensive candidate on the market. Because he is scheduled to be paid $5 million by Tampa Bay in 2011 and makes approximately $2 million from ESPN, he would be looking for a deal that could exceed $8 million. It is also not known if Gruden would be willing to work with Ireland.

And all the time, the Dolphins are keeping current coach Tony Sparano on hold. It is now clear he is the fall-back position.

While Sparano is still on the job, the team is also conducting a search.

Ownership is seeking what it believes is an upgrade. And failing to find one, will bring Sparano back for his fourth season as Miami's coach. His record in three seasons is 25-23 with a playoff appearance in 2008 and back-to-back 7-9 records the past two seasons.


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Harbaugh (or just about anyone) would be an upgrade over Sparano, but keeping Ireland would amount to spraying air freshener on a cat turd as opposed to actually removing it from the floor.

What personnel moves has Ireland made to justify keeping him? If you want to blame Parecells then that means Ireland is a novice and we don't need that........OR, Ireland did make the decisions on recent drafts and free agents and if that's the case, he's incompetent.


Glad Armando put up a new post. Was afraid he might pull the plug after the reaction to his last one.

Fire Sparano, hire Cowher, and let him fire Ireland if he so chooses. Ireland has not exactly built a team that can compete with the Jets or the Pats, so why keep alegience with him? Cowher kept the Pittsburgh team competitive for nearly every season he was in Pittsburgh.

"In Cowher’s 15 seasons, the Steelers captured eight division titles, earned ten postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. It has become an article of faith among NFL pundits that the Steelers do not have a bad team two years in a row – they have never lost 10 or more games in consecutive years since the 1970 NFL merger. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the best record of any team in the National Football League since Cowher was hired as head coach.

On February 5, 2006, Cowher's Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, giving Cowher his first Super Bowl ring. Through the Super Bowl, Cowher's team had compiled a record of 108–1–1 in games in which they built a lead of at least eleven points." - From Wikipedia....

Cement the future? How can they cement anything with the slimy Miami media constantly calling for upheaval? Give it a rest you moron!

How can Tony work in this enviroment....he should do the honarable thing and resign

Ok, Kris knows I'm open-minded, and CraigM/Mark got me thinking. I'm now open to their position (retaining Sparano).

Here's the scenario I foresee:

Sparano still has a lot left to do. We were 29th in offense (scoring) this year. I think Sparano can take us to 32.

People mentioned here how it was wrong to take Jake Long with the #1 pick (instead of Matty Ice).

Well, Sparano can fix that. We can be the worst team in the league in 2011, and get the #1 pick in 2012, and FINALLY get our franchise QB (since no one believes you can get a good QB after the 5th pick).

So, win/win/win (we just have to withstand one more season like '07).


HAARPball is not signing with Miami either

Going to be Ireland & Sparano

New OC
and trade whatever it takes to get
6.6 250 lb QB Cam Newton

Come on Ross, use your connections to bring in Jim Harbaugh, It's time for an intelligent coach.

"I know I may not be that smart"

- Tony Sparano

I would have fired him the day after he made this quote. This is not high school or New Haven - this is the NFL and these are billion dollar enterprises and this is a senior position. Only intelligent people need apply.

I fully expect Sparano and Ireland to be retained. Aside from bringing in Parcells, which at the time seemed like a recipe for long-term success, this organization has made bad decision after bad decision. Now, Starkist did somewhat change the culture within the organization, but he also brought the dead wood, now on the hot seat, to lead it when he decided to quit. If it's true that Sparano is now the 'fall back' option, then that pretty much indicates that being mediocre is ok. What an embarrassment, a fall back option? Wow.

No sense getting all HAARPed up over any GM or HC change fro the Dolphins

Not Gonna HAARPen

DC...not me....lol

Embarrassing Kris. He sees he's the fallback, what does that do to HIS confidence? Could you imagine him and Henne, side by side every game, shell-shocked. Every mistake making them both look at the door. LOL. It's like Laurel and Hardy!

Wow, with that approach I could save the $400 or so for the football package in 2011 and spend more time with my family. On second thought...

Cincy is sticking with Marvin Lewis. WOW!

It seems I am getting lumped in with the Sparano supporters here but I clearly listed my preferences of alternatives several times.

1) Jim harbaugh

2) Sparano as a head coach with a strong OC given autonomy.

3) definitely not to Gruden/Cowher, etc. No more 2nd time around coaches with their stomachs full.

It was about time we goy another Cowher Resume...it had been almost 2 Blogs since I had seen one.....i was beginning to forget that he one 1 SB in 15 years.....

High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is an ionospheric heater and weapons of mass destruction run by the New World Order funded by black ops, jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). .

Tests on mind control thru the use of HAARP are currently being conducted on Dolphins LB Channing Crowder

DC I'm with you. Let get to pick number 1 over all next year. And with the CBA we won't have to give up 50 million guarantee. Sweet!



John Clayton has his year end QB rankings up on ESPN for what it's worth. Henne comes in 30th. Hell, I'd have given him 25th or so.

DC, LOL @ 11:51

All resumes of potential new Miami Dolphins GMs & HCs are going directly in the "round file"

Enuff of the BS
Ireland & Sparano are not getting fired
or getting paid to leave

have a HAARPy day :(

Not sure about the idea of hiring ANOTHER College coach. We heard such great things about Saban, Spurrier and Petrino and they all failed. Look, I like Jim Harbaugh, I just don't think anyboby can say he's can't miss. What happens if he's another guy who realize the pro game is so much harder than the College game, where you can actually recruit the best players to play for your program. Do you think Saban regrets his decision for a second? No.

30th is a bit harsh....i'm sure he led the league in yardage between the 30's

Armando, Darlington writing articles and Tweeting Sporano and Ireland are safe. You are saying the opposite. Both work at the same paper. Just curious as to why you guys are reporting the opposite of each other?


Unless Luck stays around for another year at Stanford, this year is the year to have the #1 overall pick. Not too sure of any college QB's who grade out as well as Luck does. He's a Matt Ryan clone and maybe even better.

it sounds like Sparano is done.

Is there any way to fire the OWNER???? Seriously this guy is going to destroy this organization by listening to his butt buddy Carl Peterson, well I am now going to take a few years off of football now, hoping this owner sells the team to someone who is about FOOTBALL not HOLLYWOOD you want that garbage go to CALI MR. ROSS.

I think this is smart to gauge interest from the notable coaching candidates.

Hopefully they land one.

I can see keeping nolan - Ireland not so much.

at least Ross hasn't rolled over and kept Sporano without looking.

Hire Cowher and give him the power to hire and fire a new GM. Don't give him control of the draft, I think holding both jobs is too big a chore for one guy in today's NFL. Let him hire his own guy and then have the ability to hold him accountable for his selections, signings and trades. Make it clear to Cowher that the person Cowher hires will be the one getting the players but Cowher can fire him if he thinks his performance is poor.

I wonder where clayton had cassel on his list last year?

I think the Dolphins should contact Jeff Fisher's camp. If Bud Adams is on the fence and this is Fisher's last year, we should make a play for him. I think Fisher would do extremely well in South Florida.

ESPN: Harbaugh not going to Michigan, will jump into the NFL.

Two words why Cassel was so successful this year...Charlie Weiss. I'd expect the '09 version to return next season.

the only one with really good coaching credentials is cowher. if we are going to blow up the whole team again we need to give cowher whatever he wants. Ireland hasn't done us any favors. If you want to win, you need a great coach. Belicheat would win with anyone at the helm. Let Cowher have whomever he wants. I still vote to keep Sparano. I think he is a great coach

WOW, Not a good article to get out if we end up keeping Sparano.

This is weird, just weird.

This is terrible. The problem last year was Henne, not Sparano. Another coaching change? Come on. You can't win like that. Greatness in the NFL demands consistency at the top (GM, coach). The defense was great last year. If they just had average QB play, the season may have been different. Sparano was not the problem, and ANOTHER coaching change would be terrible.




Is it really funny or really sad that the people wanting Sparano to stay are essentially asking the person who led us into this disaster to lead us out?

Sparanderthal makes a plea to Ross saying how he can fix what he progressively put in shambles? Is this Saturday Night Live or Monty Python? Sounds to me like a confession of incompetence.

It took Cowher over a decade to win a super bowl, and people want Sparano canned after 3 years. This is laughable. Do you think Cowher is going to put the same effort as Sparano? Cowher's legacy is cemented, and he is rich. He is not going to kill himself like Sparano to make the team better.

I Would give up our 1st and 3rd this year and next to move to #1 and Draft Luck...Build through FA.. Jets did it and they are still playing.. we have a very young team ..I would do what ever it takes to get Luck... Way better then Ryan and Flacco..Get Harbaugh and go after our Qb in this draft..No matter the cost..The NFL is now built for quick turn arounds...we have some holes but we aren't as far away as these fans think

Hiring or drafting anyone is a gamble to an extent. I think the difference and why Harbaugh makes sense is that he is young, smart, hungry to succeed in the NFL, has previous ties to the NFL, has been a successful head coach, has run a pro style offense, has an NFL pedigree and has a brother who IS a successful NFL head coach. Not only that but he has become used to having a great QB at Stanford and I think he would make that his #1 priority as a new NFL head coach.

Craig, main difference between Harbaugh and Petrino/Saban is that the latter two were vet college coaches - demi gods in their college towns and quite happy there. Saban in particular had to be VERY pursuaded and borderline harassed by Huizenga to come here. Seems he never wanted to come here but felt he had to.

Harbaugh is more like a young Jimmy Johnson. College is the launching point for him. He is a long time NFL player and is obviously comfortable in that cirlce and knows what's going on. He also doesn't seem to be refuting or turning away NFL overtures at all.

Harbaugh is perfectly built for today's NFL. It's a QB league - one where you need a dynamic balanced offense and you need attitude. His teams have attitude and in 2 years he produced the leading rusher and the #1 QB prospect in the land. he has all the earmarks and coupled with a Mike Nolan type DC - it can be a dynamic combo.

Craig M....the difference is that all those coaches you mentioned are set in their ways with no flexibility or willingness to learn....Harbaugh doesn't strike me as that kinda guy....could be wrong....but he seems to want to do anything it takes to win...

What does scare me is that Harbaugh has done all of this with QREAT QBing....and you know the old adage....show me a great coach...and i'll show you a great QB....

Fake, So what your saying is the O-line was stellar, and Henne had great time to throw the ball. Oh, and the play calling was not predictable? I think that is completly short sighted on your part.

I AM NOT saying Henne is the answer, but there are other pieces needed for any QB to be good here.

And I am not saying Sparano should go, I am still up in the air on this. I think I just do not want to admit we are re-building AGAIN!


What disaster? We finsihed 7-9, ahead of 14 other teams.....this after losing our last three in a row. The Titanic was a disaster. Katrina was a disaster. We're a football team, 1 game under .500. A little perspective please....

I also don't think you can even count the 2009 season. They were still playing with bad players from previous regimes (bad receiver core, an old J. Porter, and an old J. Taylor). The drafting was disastrous until Ireland got here, and the 2009 roster still had major holes due to a decade of roster mismanagement. You can't put that season on this regime.

I'd go after Fisher in a nanosecond if he became available but I think he's staying put in Tennessee.

With Harbaugh, Armando makes the valid point about the Niners offering the "quality of life" bonus. This is still a young guy with a family already living there and it's certainly an attractive area. That's going to be tough to overcome.

I agree with people saying Fisher is a good choice, I like him as a coach. Seems his players play hard for him also.

Thank you so much for breaking down the Dolphins' coaching SEACH, Mando. Way to go!

-- Bebo

With all due respect guys, we said the same thing about Cam Cameron. Smart, offensive-minded, fresh-thinking....he was lousy! You want to talk about DISASTER's.....1-15 was a disaster!

What usually happens with these College coaches is they realize the pro game is a lot tougher. It's a lot tougher to attract players to your team in the pros than it it to recruit them to successful College programs. And Kris said it best....Harbaugh already has a star quarterback in Luck. He won't have ready made star here in Miami.

That would be one of the reasons that Harbaugh won't come here. The quarterback. No way will he except this job if there are no guarantees that we will do something to upgrade at quarterback. Other than this problem, the Miami job(if it becomes available) is attractive.

0x80, didn't we end the same way last year? Crash & burn baby. 3 in a row last year & again this year. We sure are consistent!

Hasn't Morono promised to fix the offense & not done so? Has he not promised to fix ST & not done so? All he has done has gotten the defense to be average. We still struggle against the good teams.

Sparano has a plan, like his previous plans. If you base it on the previous results, we will be back here again next year.

New article up on NFL Nation Blog on ESPN:
"Report: Dolphins pursuing Jim Harbaugh"

I had almost forgotten that Ross and Harbaugh have something in common. Both are Michigan guys! Feeling that might give us a shot.

dont get hopes up too high for harbaugh coming here i just heard on the radio his wife loves california and they recently had a baby and for the few of us here that have actually ever been with a woman you know the saying if mamma aint happy nobody happy

Fisher had a down year, to be sure, but I doubt you'd find too many around the league who don't view him as an excellent coach and teacher.

I remember how he held the team together and stayed competitive during all the turmoil around their move from Houson and their "vagabond" status in Memphis. Not many could have done that.

His coaching staffs are routinely considered among the finest in football. People WANT to work with him.

No titles, true, but had he been working in a stable organization like Pittsburgh all these years I guarantee that wouldn;t be the case. Bud Adams is a pretty lousy owner by all accounts.


I agree that they need a better offensive coordinator and O-line, but the main problem in my opinion was Henne. You wont win with bad QB play in this league. And Henne was very bad, not just average.


I totally agree dude. If Sparano is let go,replacing him with an inexperienced coach is exactly what we dont need.

Personally,i want someone who knows the day to day running of an NFL team and one who knows how the draft works. Unfortunately,college coaches dont have that experience.

We should learn from the Saban debacle.

Craig, glad you are happy with 7-9, 30th in offense, last in special teams, a completely failed plan on the teams most important position - Henne getting worse every week and they were not smart enough to know they had no viable 2nd string QB. 1-7 at home, tied for worst in franchise history. The oline has gone completely downhill. The only thing they have successfully done is build a decent dline, nothing more. They haven't drafted one single dynamic player in 3 years. They invested heavily in two injury prone lineman, Grove and SMiley and naturally they got injured, with nothing but second and third string bunk to replace them. Add it up and thats disaster.

You be happy with that, good for you. I prefer to see progress... It's beyond me how you can't see Sparano is just not HC material, and in fact, plain dumb stupid.

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